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And now we leave you with a special guest post from Paul Carr, the man who spent three years living in London hotels, an envious escapade which not only serves as the premise for his book, The Upgrade, but which also gives him license to lay into London hotels for their overpriced rates and poor service. And away we go.
When Samuel Johnson suggested that a man who is tired of London is tired of life, he clearly wasn't paying $500 a night to stay at a mid-refurb Radisson in a drafty twin room overlooking some dumpsters. In fact, if you want to become tired of life very quickly, a night in a London hotel is a great place to start.
I should start by emphasizing how much I love hotels. I love hotels so much, that three years ago I gave up my apartment in London, sold nearly all of my possessions (all that wouldn't fit in a single carry-on bag) and began living as a permanent hotel-dweller.
Since then, by virtue of having no fixed abode (and very little shame), I've enjoyed a life of ridiculous excess and adventure, met thousands of incredible people and had more fun than is perhaps sensible for a grown man. Certainly more than is legal: my adventures have landed me in jail cells on at least three occasions (that I can remember) and ultimately lead to me finally quitting drinking and writing a book about my misadventures: The Upgrade, which just so happens to be published this week in the UK and Europe.
And yet, London is the one city on earth which makes me hate the idea staying in hotels, let alone living in them. For a start, the economics are ridiculous. A cursory glance on Hotels.com shows me that the cheapest,the cheapest, central London, four star or above, hotel room available tonight is $531. By contrast, for just $30 more in New York, I could book a loft at Morgans. Hell, for $100 less I could comfortably book any of the current hotel-only deals on Jetsetter and still have enough left over for dinner.
Here's some news to make even the most assiduous of hotel geeks jealous: the knowledge that however many days you spend on the road for work or pleasure, however many SPG points you own, however much you might be the spitting image of Ryan Bingham in every other sense, you will never be as thorough a hotel spod as the man pictured above.
Because Paul Carr, said man pictured above and a British author, spent three years living in hotels. Not "staying" in them. Not "practically living" in them. Actually living in them - as in, giving up his apartment in London, stuffing all he wanted to possess into a suitcase (or a "large leather duffel bag", if what he says here is true), and spending his life moving from hotel to hotel around the world.
Luckily (or unluckily, if you succumb easily to the green-eyed monster), he's written about the whole thing in a book, The Upgrade, which will be published in the UK next month and the US early next year. According to the blurb:
Thanks to Paul’s highly-developed blagging skills, what begins as a one-year experiment soon becomes a permanent lifestyle – a life lived in luxury hotels and mountain-top villas. An existence solely of fast cars, Hollywood actresses and Icelandic rock stars. Of 6,000-mile booty calls, of partying with 800 female hairdressers dressed only in bedsheets, and of nearly dying at the hands of Spanish drug dealers. And, most bizarrely of all, a life that still costs less than surviving on cold pizza in London.
When it comes to hotel trends, the Standard New York always has to do things a little differently.
While many hotels offer guests a carefully curated selection of books to read during their stay, the Standard has employed Satanic Verses author Salman Rushdie to choose the Standard reading material. The NY Post reports:
According to sources, the "Satanic Verses" author is in the process of selecting 10 "American classics," which will be in Standard rooms during the PEN World Voices Festival April 25 to May 1.
Boo. All that work and they will only be in the rooms for a week? This is actually one of the few cool amenities that the Standard has offered gratis to guests, no special membership required. Maybe they can bring in another author next month? Just not Snooki, please.
Book: A set of written, printed, or blank pages fastened along one side and encased between protective covers.
As hotels try to out-tech each other with 3DTVs, iPhone apps and iPads, there's a hotel that's going back to a simpler time by offering guests good old-fashioned books. (See the definition above in case you forgot what those were.)
In the tech-conscious city of San Francisco, The Mandarin Oriental has kicked off its very own book club for hotel guests called MO Reads. Yes, a book club for hotel guests. This might be a first. But it's not quite the scene you are imagining, i.e. there isn't a circle of guests cuddling up in quilts by the fireplace in the lobby. No, the MO Reads is a little bit savvier than that.
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Where once rickshaws clogged the streets, now there are scarlet red taxis. And where the Star Ferry once reigned on Victoria Harbour, now there are subway and car tunnels underneath (even though the Star Ferry still runs), and the The Peninsula Hong Kong has been there for it all. We were lucky enough to be in Hong Kong last week, when "The Pen," the original one and flagship of the luxury hotel chain, celebrated its 82nd Anniversary with the publication of its own book, "Our Hong Kong."
Unlike most other luxury hotel soirees, the late morning event at The Peninsula welcomed all guests and staff to the historical lobby for tea tastings, bites of local Hong Kong specialties, and a few words from Sir Michael Kadoorie, Chairman of The Hongkong and. Shanghai Hotels Group and the strikingly gorgeous Ms. Rainy Chan, the General Manager of the Peninsula HK. You see, this book that The Peninsula published on its own has been in the works for several years, and it tells the stories of the stafftheir favorite spots in the city, cherished Hong Kong memories from their childhoods, and where to find the best egg waffles.
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We've been kind of crazy for the iPad this summer that we've nearly forgotten about e-readers but Fairmont Hotels has jogged our memory of life before the iPad by announcing a new partnership with Kobo eReaders.
The Kobo looks and reads more like a Kindle than an iPad except with slightly better design than the Kindle. The e-readers can store up to a 1,000 books but Fairmont Gold guests will be getting access to new and bestselling titles from Random House as well as a small credit for future buys.
The eReaders are loaded with a variety of fiction and non-fiction eBooks by authors including Bret Easton Ellis, Sophie Kinsella and Alexander McCall Smith. Upon returning the Kobo eReader, guests will receive a special offer for $2 off select Random House titles redeemable at www.kobobooks.com/randomhouse.
Sick of toting heavy hardcover books in your shrinking carry-on allowance? Not quite keen on the Kindle? If you’re heading to Los Cabos for spring break, you can leave all the books and e-readers at home—as long as you’re willing to drop some major cash on a room at Las Ventanas.
The resort’s Hot Type program not only makes books available for guests to read poolside, they bring you the freshest titles possible—books six weeks to six months away from hitting Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
HotelChatter contributor AndrewC is bringing life back to your summer reading book list. Though beach reading season is steadily winding down, keep an eye out for his reviews; he rounds up the tomes worth picking up in lieu of your typical Harlequin or grizzled detective story. Do you have your own travel reading suggestions? Comment below or e-mail us.
It's not too often that you find something besides a bible and phone book in the nightstand drawer at your hotel, but until the late 90s every Hilton Hotel included the book Be My Guest, Conrad Hilton's autobiography. That's how we "found" our copy during our stay at the Hilton in East Brunswick, NJ awhile back.
Ace Hotels, always excited over collaboration to produce their own goodies, is at it again with a new guidebook to Seattle, Portland, and New York City featuring the favorite spots from members of Sonic Youth.
Only 3,000 of the guides were printed, which are being given for FREE to guests at any of the Ace Hotels except for Palm Springs, for some reason as well as at chosen record stores in the same cities. Wondering where to find Kim Gorden in Seattle? You might want to check any of three favorite restaurants: Flying Fish, Wild Ginger and Kingfish Cafe.
Although Sonic Youth recently performed in New York to promote their new album, "The Eternal," they'll be playing over in Seattle on July 25 and Portland on July 28, so it's probably best if you have this guide in hand for them to sign backstage. Because how cool would that be? Way cooler than just another signed album cover, we think.
[Photo: Ace Hotels]
Huh. Yeah. So we got excited about Amazon Kindles at the Algonquin. And yes, we even got excited enough to put down our poolside go-to literature (Us Weekly, let's be real with each other here) when we heard about the sunshine-friendly Sony Readers offered by the Gansevoort. But for some reason we're not quite as excited about the "EPIC Page-Turner" program that's being heavily touted by Miami's new (and highly-praised!) Epic Hotel and Residences.
Here's the deal: the hotel offers up Sony Digital Readers "on a complimentary basis to Club Level guests and those spending their day lounging at the hotel’s 16th floor pool deck." Which is cool and the readers are loaded with one complimentary book only. You are allowed to request other titles to read during your stay for the cost of the eBook "plus a nominal download fee that EPIC will donate to the Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe." Which is nice. We can't hate on charity.
Summer is officially here and while the weather on the East Coast has taken its sweet old time warming up, there's still no better way for us hotel nerds to celebrate the hot days and long nights other than with a Summer Reading List of Hotel Books.
Once a week, we will review a book about hotels whether it be fiction, non-fiction, historical, auto-biographical or even just a cool coffee table book with incredible photos. These could be the perfect books to kick back with while laying poolside, or while working the late-night shift at the front desk or while entertaining friends with your high-falutin' aspiring hotelier schemes.
First up, one for those aforementioned aspiring hoteliers: Four Seasons: The Story of a Business Philosophy by Isadore Sharp.
Another day, another hotel interiors coffee table book. Newest on the bookshelf is one from the recently re-branded Design Hotels; it is simply their "Yearbook," documenting 170 member hotels of their group in glossy style.
Available in black or white, we're guessing to help best contrast other colorful hotel books out there, the Yearbook is a weighty 476 pages, ringing in at a similarly hefty price of 44 Euro ($58.80). To spare you the need of lugging one of these babies home from the bookstore, we'll let you in on a few of the eccentric properties featured: Limes Hotel in Brisbane, New Majestic in Singapore, Azucar in Veracruz, East Hotel Hamburg, Goldman 25Hours in Frankfurt, the Hospes Maricel on Mallorca, and the Alila Villas Hadahaa on an atoll in the Maldives.
It may be nothing more than a glorified catalog, but there is a definite winning argument for owning this type of book: it makes you look cultured and well-traveled, and its very presence makes your bookshelf appear eccentric. Since we admit to having shallow moments where these things matter, you'll be catching this on our Christmas (in July) list.
[Photos: Design Hotels]